Charleston: The Ultimate Local's Guide
The Seattle craft cocktail bar
The awards bestowed on this bar range from “World’s Best Cocktail Menu,” to "One of the Most Beautiful Bars in Seattle", and “Best Bathrooms in Seattle,” but the truth is, it's hard to come up with something here that doesn’t deserve an award. The spirit list is one of the longest in the world and the captain’s list holds some rare and old treasures, while the cocktail menu is innovative and filled with creative new ways to build a drink. Sadly, the secret patio isn’t open in the cooler months, but the darkness brings about a seasonal favorite here: the truffle Old Fashioned.
A refined island escape in Pike/Pine
A Caribbean vacation in bar form, this rum-driven spot brings everything an island vacation needs, like turquoise décor, tropical cocktails, and plantain chips. You’ll have to trade away the sunshine, but in return, your cocktail will be better than anything ever served poolside -- with or without the tiny umbrella.
The Town's quintessential dive bar
Linda’s is the platonic ideal of a Northwest bar, with good music, a vaguely woodsy vibe (provided in part by a taxidermied buffalo head above the bar), and plenty of Rainier tall boys. With more than two decades under its belt, this bar has laid out the welcome mat for Seattle’s most famous celebrities -- it is supposedly the last place Kurt Cobain was seen alive -- and its newest citizens alike, all without fanfare. Just a drink and a dark corner from which to watch the world go by. Also, their bathrooms are really nice. Just kidding, but the Cobain thing is true.
A wine bar you'll never want to leave
It’s just like your home, only the maid came, the cook’s here, and suddenly, the living room shelves are lined with wine bottles. This converted house brings all the comforts of home (with a lovely patio to boot) together with a well-curated wine bar. Taste through what’s open, have a glass and relax, or pay a small corkage to open any of the bottles in the store.
Trendy cocktail bar with food from one of Seattle's best pizza places
With its whale print wallpaper and house-made liqueurs, Essex sometimes feels like it’s ticking imaginary boxes off a trends checklist. But while showcasing what’s cool, it also puts out what’s good: an Americano on tap, a barrel-aged drink mixing aquavit, Cocchi Americano, and gentian, and food straight from the wood-fired oven of sibling/neighbor Delancey.
Authentic dive with the fourth-best burger in America
A few years ago it would have felt dangerous talk about Loretta’s out loud: Any minute, it could have been invaded by tech bros/tourists and the perfectly dingy, laid-back vibe of the place would have been gone forever. Well, we don't have to worry about that anymore, because first Josh Henderson of Westward, etc. brought the Vice cameras by for a Chef's Night Out, and then we went and told the world that this out of the way bar makes one of the country's best burgers. Oops. But luckily the place hasn't really changed, and the burger definitely hasn't, so you'd better start figuring out where South Park is already.
Your favorite brewer's favorite bar
Once a place to pick up cigarettes and malt liquor, this old corner store has undergone a slow but complete transformation into one of Seattle's leading beer bars (and spawned a second location in the Central District). Inside, 41 taps spill over with brews of all styles -- though the focus is on IPAs -- and they still sell a few snacks held over from the shop's previous incarnation, while outside you'll find a small patio and a rotating selection of Seattle's most popular food trucks.
An ambitious bar with unconventional cocktails
This distinctive drink destination from the people behind next door's acclaimed Stateside was only open a few weeks when people started calling it Seattle's “best bar” of 2016, and the accolades haven't stopped since. The same combination of street food with an urban, upscale style employed by Stateside works even better here, where they're taking even more risks in the form of molecular mixology and pungent asian flavors, like coconut and curry that compete for space on a menu that also offers lemongrass ice cream banana splits.
Rooftop spot with stunning views of Puget Sound
Historically Seattle's watering holes have remained, for the most part, firmly rooted on the ground floor, but that's started to change recently thanks to a spate of high (great pun totally intended) profile openings led by the Nest, which boasts a sprawling patio, a cozy indoor space, and a sleek modern bar. Not to mention absolutely unbeatable views over Elliot Bay and Puget Sound, and the alcoholic Otter Pop on the menu. Enough said.
Elegant, old-timey cocktail bar hidden in a haberdashery
It barely even qualifies as a bar. Seriously, it's simply a dozen or so seats around horseshoe-shaped counter at the back of a dry goods/gift shop, but if you're lucky enough to find it, well then you've discovered a whimsical world of house-made tinctures, and charmingly anachronistic touches (the Campari actually gets its color from little red beetles like they all used to).
Secretive speakeasy... now with more space
When it opened almost 10 years ago, on what was then an out-of-the-way block on Olive, KHSC was at the cutting edge of a speakeasy resurgence. But now, in an effort to keep up with the times, it has expanded its Filipino-inspired menu (they even do brunch), and expanded the bar itself by adding a slightly misshapen subterranean space with rich wallpaper and a crystal chandelier. This effort has more than doubled the space and made it so you don't have to text ahead to get a seat anymore. One the thing that hasn't changed: there's still almost no way to tell there's a bar there from the street.
Iconic 24-hour dive in the shadow of the Space Needle
We were tempted to go with one of Seattle's other famous dives (like The Mecca, which was actually opened by the same guy who started the 5 Point) but we did label this occasionally rowdy spot with a 6am breakfast happy hour, and nude Polaroids hanging behind the bar the most iconic drinking establishment in the state a couple of years ago. So for the sake of editorial consistency, the bar’s lively scene at the edge of Seattle's booming Westlake neighborhood, and the aforementioned breakfast happy hour, we had to go with the 5 Point.
Amaro-focused bar with a new national reputation
When Renee Erickson opened this petite (less than 800 square feet), bar next to her renowned Walrus & The Carpenter, it was basically treated like a place to get a drink while you waited for a seat next door. But thanks to a highly curated collection of Italian Amaro-based cocktails, and a place on Esquire's list of the 24 best bars in America, this nautically named bar has stepped firmly out of the admittedly long shadow cast by its neighbor and made a name for itself far beyond Seattle.
Fun beer and fine dining at the same time
Owned by the same couple behind Seattle's legendary Rob Roy (going there is one of the most festive things to do in Seattle this year), and the brand new -- almost equally great -- Navy Strength next door, No Anchor gets the nod because... well, because we couldn't exactly put all three on the list. And because NA's combination of "weird beer + rad food" make it an almost perfect expression of Seattle right now. Creative, casual, and upwardly mobile, but with just the right amount of fun.
Possibly the perfect urban drinking experience
Set off an alley between Third & Fourth near Bell, this dark, comfortable bar -- decorated by a giant stained glass star salvaged from Charlie's on Broadway, and an eclectic mix of homey furniture -- walls off the outside world. It plies you with the kind of warm whiskey-based cocktails and slightly Southern-inspired comfort foods (shrimp & grits, mac & cheese, etc.) that'll make you forget about everything else. And get you through our endless gray winters with ease.
The best beer bar in a city that's full of them
One of the best beer bars in America (seriously, it’s good), the PB is located in a stunning old funeral home with a vaulted ceiling and tons of dark polished wood. It also takes an appropriately worshipful approach to the 30+ brews on tap, some of which they even pour through a flavor-infusing filter, giving them a... killer flavor. Thank you, thank you.
Pursuing the perfect cocktail in the Junction
Slightly out of place in the super-casual West Seattle (or perhaps a sign of things to come as the 'hood continues to grow), this elegant, apothecary-inspired spot is serving up seasonal cocktails made with a farm-to-table (garden-to-glass?) respect for ingredients, and a precise, almost scientific approach to mixology. The result is a range of meticulous drinks including the Black & White made with activated charcoal infused Bombay Dry, and the rye-based Bon Fire, which has a bunch of ingredients, including "house-made funky orange bitters," that are stirred then smoked in a beaker and served with a large ice cube you pour the whole thing over at your table.
An intimate, and influential, Prohibition-era cocktail bar
Though it can still be a little hard to find thanks to its largely unmarked entrance off an alleyway, the secret's been out on this speakeasy-style bar for the better part of a decade. It makes some of the best cocktails in the city (like the bourbon/fig & maple syrup/lemon juice Death Star), all in a tiny, two-level space with a tin ceiling, and, surprise, an actual bathtub in the middle of the floor.
A stunning bar with some equally stunning drinks
We once named it Seattle’s best cocktail bar, thanks to a smart and mature drink menu centered around Italian amari (aperitifs, digestifs, and fernets, etc.) and one of the most beautiful bars in the city. It’s in a spectacular space, with a dark tin ceiling, a beautiful chandelier, and an oversized patio with a retractable roof that might be one of Seattle's best outdoor drinking spots.
A gorgeous subterranean bar with a great happy hour
Step down into this subterranean space from the same people behind the Forge Lounge and let the underlit art nouveau bar -- and well-worn tile floor -- transport you back in time. And if that doesn't do it than the ridiculously old-school price point of their happy hour cocktails ($4!) definitely will.